ASUS EAH4870 TOP vs. MSI R4870-T2D512-OC


AMDs Radeon HD 4800 series has without a doubt been a huge success for AMD and given the manufacture the so much needed success. With AMD latest Radeon HD 4800 series the manufacture has proven to be quite competitive with NVIDIAs dominance in both midrange and especially highend portion of the market.

We got an early preview of AMDs upcoming strategy to beat NVIDIA on its own game with the launch of the Radeon HD 3800 series of cards, which mainly Radeon HD 3850 managed to create problems for NVIDIA in lowend market and the Radeon HD 3870 X2 series to some extent created problems for NVIDIA in highend part.

AMDs Radeon HD 3870 X2 did not manage to steal the yellow jersey from NVIDIA, as NVIDIA made a quick response in form of the launch of the GeForce 9 series, in which the GeForce 9800 GTX and GeForce 9800 GX2 was introduced and caused AMD multiple problems again to be competitive.

Now AMD is finally back with the Radeon HD 4800 series, which have so far is causing quite a stir at NVIDIA for its superior performance at an attractive price point where in particular the Radeon HD 4850 has been a major succes(This is where the big money is earned!).

NVIDIA has therefore been forced to re-launch the GeForce 9800 GTX series in a plus version which increased both the core and memory frequency – and not even been forced to dump the its price strategy for the GeForce 260 and GeForce 280 GTX versions of that match AMDs Radeon HD 4850, 4870 and to some extend the Radeon HD 4870X2.

The first preview of the Radeon HD 4870 X2 has already seen the light of day and given AMD a secure performance crown in 90% of the most popular games – where even the more expensive NVIDIAs GeForce 260 and 280 GTX must see themselves disabled!.

AMD is certainly back with the new Radeon HD 4800 Series, which so far has delivered an excellent performance at an attractive price. A price point which NVIDIA partners have difficulties to match. Even worse for NVIDIAs partners is when a pair of Radeon HD 4800 cards is combined in a CrossfireX setup. Is here NVIDIA so far appears to have serious difficulties to keep up with the new Radeon HD 4800 series.


ASUS EAH4870 TOP is not surprisingly based upon AMDs own reference design for Radeon HD 4870 where only the sticker on the front has been exchanged. Otherwise ASUS EAH4870 is completely identical to the reference version of the Radeon HD 4870.

The GPU cooler has though been updated over the previous Radeon HD 3870 reference design and thus got a little bigger and more efficient. The more powerfull GPU cooler can quickly be measured by the weigh of the cards individually. Where the old Radeon HD 3870 weighs around 630 grams and the latest Radeon HD 4870 cards weighs around 750 grams.

If we remove the GPU cooler from the card it can be seen clearly that the new GPU Cooler consists of a large copper profile containing 2 heat pipes and some aluminum striations, which subsequently cooled by the 68mm large Radial fan from NTK Technologies. We allowed ourselves of course, to measure noise levels at the inbuilt radial fan in idle mode which was ca. 20 cm which gave a value of some. 58 db.

When we measured the noise from the cards on load it gave a 64db noiselevel which is quite a lot and fan can easily be heard without a doubt. However, it is not as bad as we have seen in previous ATI Radeon generations repectively Radeon x1900XTX and Radeon HD 1950XTX – But the noise is significantly more than NVIDIAs GeForce offerings aka 9800 GTX, GeForce 260 GTX and GeForce 9800 GX2.

When we disassembled the GPU cooler we surprisingly saw the GPU cooler it self doesn’t cool the onboard memory which is chilled by an aluminium frame which separated from the more efficient stock GPU cooling and it will be harder to remove the heat this way.

When we removed the GPU cooler we briefly saw the exposed RV770 core, as the same as we saw on the less Radeon HD 4850 – Radeon HD 4870 is the default just a higher clocked core and instead uses GDDR5 memory for higher bandwidth. ASUS has chosen to clock the core some (815MHz)75MHz over the standard value of 750MHz – thereby delivering a bit more performance.

When we look closer at the onboard memory it is reveal that AMD choose to go with Qimondas GDDR5 memory with model number “IDGV51-05A1F1C-40X” produced in 2008, weeks 18 and nominated for 3600MHz operation or 900×4. ASUS, however, have chosen to overclock the memory some 25MHz 925MHz and thereby 3700MHz effectively.

Looking further on the Radeon HD 4870 card we see the has 2 Crossfire connectors which provides support for a CrossfireX – which can be warmly recommended for the enthusiast if you to be ahead of the competition. We at HARDiNFO is well familiar with the performance of two Radeon HD 4870 cards in CrossfireX and we must admit that the performance is stellar!

For more notable things the Radeon HD 4870 is equipped with 2 pcs of 6 pin molex connectors which is slightly different for the former Radeon HD 3870 where the 8 pins connector is only to be found on the X2 models. It only requires a power supply with paragraph 4 pcs of 6 pins connectors for running a CrossfireX setup with two of Radeon HD 4870 otherwise you have to use molex splitters if you PSU doesnt have the extra 6 pins connectors. Finally the ASUS EAH4870 Top offers to 2 DVI-I ports and 1 single TVout port – which in particular can be used for a HDTV cable (Component).

What You Choose?

A closer look at AMDs Radeon HD 4870 is the core frequency is now set to 750MHz some 125MHz more than what we find on the Radeon HD 4850 series. Radeon HD 4870 is still though based upon the same RV770 core and thereby the same architecture.

Radeon HD 4870 is though been equipped with GDDR5 RAM instead of GDDR3 RAM, among and provides a more higher effective memory frequency of 3600MHz against 2000MHz (GDDR3) found on the Radeon HD 4850.

It is evident – if one compares the memory bandwidth on Radeon HD 4870 and Radeon HD 4850, where they are respectively 115GB/s and 64GB therefore almost doubled.

AMD/ATI has, however, kept the number of ROPs at 16 for both the Radeon HD 4870 and 4850 editions – and the memory interface is 256bit and not 512bit, as the GeForce 280 GTX. This does not effect the performance of AMDs Radeon HD 4800 Series – as AMD wisely has chosen to make use of GDDR5 on Radeon HD 4870 and 4870X2 and therefore adds more memory bandwidth which is crucial.

Ever since the HD38xx-series came new features very introduced such as Unified Video Decoder(UVD), DirectX 10.1 and PowerPlay. The latter being the newest power saving feature for the ATI GPUs. The purpose is to keep power wattage low, when the force of the card is not needed. This newer version should be better at judging the need, so its more than a 3D-engine that can draw the power from the beast.

DirectX 10.1 support is at the moment more of a PR gimmick, as most of the games are still not running DirectX 10 – but its good that ATI thought of the near future. After all a little market value is always a good thing.

UVD is the name for the package of Hardware decoding that is put into the HD family. Decoding, de-interlacing, post processing and the like – when it comes to HD video material using the VC-1 and the H.264 codecs. This is the first time that this has been moved up to the high-end cards, instead of just being in the mid- and low-range market. Its good to hear that high-end users now also can do more than just play games and get the benefit of their card.


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